Hybrids & Electrics

Bentley Plugs In to Hybrid Tech With New Mulsanne Concept

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Electric cars and plug-in electric hybrids are marvelous pieces of engineering. That said, it seems a bit like the technology has been applied in the wrong places, with the exception of the Tesla Model S. Outside of that — and the McLaren P1, Ferrari LaFerrari, and Porsche 918 — most plug-ins and electric cars are compact, utilitarian city vehicles that, if running on gasoline, never really consumed much fuel in the first place.

The Bentley (VLKAY.PK) Mulsanne, on the other hand, is a car that would greatly benefit from such a system. As it stands, the massive luxury yacht of a sedan packs a 6.75 liter twin-turbocharged V8, which sucks fuel at the rate of 13 miles per gallon combined. In other words, it has a lot to gain from an implementation of such a system, which is just what Bentley has planned.

Bentley on Wednesday said it will be bringing a plug-in hybrid concept Mulsanne to the Beijing Motor Show later this month. However, it won’t be the Mulsanne that receives the system, at least at first — it will be the tentative Bentley SUV, due out in 2017. Think of the Mulsanne as a sort of picture frame for Bentley’s first plug-in hybrid drivetrain, though it will be applied across the company’s range eventually, according to Bentley’s chairman and CEO.

“There is no doubt that plug-in hybrid technology is true to Bentley’s values of outstanding luxury and effortless performance,” said Wolfgang Schreiber. ”Combining our renowned engines with electric power reinforces and enhances both principles, and so we will gradually introduce this powertrain across our model range. By the end of the decade, at least 90 percent of our production will be available as a plug-in hybrid. We are proud to be pioneering these developments in the luxury sector.”

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Bentley promises that its system will sport a power increase of up to 25 percent, alongside a 70 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, “without any compromise to the exquisite luxury, timeless design and industry-leading refinement,” per a company press release.

Actual specifications — you know, the ones that matter, like fuel consumption and horsepower and torque counts — were not disclosed in the company’s release, but it’s likely that they’ll surface when the model is on display in Beijing. Unless Bentley took advantage of new lightweight materials, you can also expect that the new car will boast a rather hefty curb weight with the added battery and electric motor.

The concept features a number of cosmetic additions alongside its new guts, such as copper details in the headlamps, the radiator shell bezel, the brake calipers, the feature line details, and badges. The car’s electrical veins are also highlighted with copper, as are details inside the cabin.